The Last Royals – Twistification 9 out of 10
For those familiar with this talented NYC Indie-Rock duo, it has been a long wait for this album to be released. (Check out our interview with front man Eric James from late 2010 where he discussed the forthcoming release.)
After my first few listens of Twistification, it seems well worth the wait. Eric James and Mason Ingram have been working on this release for almost two years, following up the success of their self-titled debut EP and its cornerstone offering, the catchy hit “Crystal Vases.” The new album builds on the previous success and is a fantastic way to start off the 2013 rock music year.
On Twistification, we get another glimpse of the band’s original hit, as well as a few re-imagined versions of songs off of the debut EP. We also get eight new tracks just screaming for airplay. James and Ingram simply just churn out fun, catchy rock tunes, and there have to be at least a half-dozen potential hits on the album. It’s an absolute blast to listen to, and one that will be an early favorite for Alt-Rock fans everywhere. It’s not all rollicking upbeat rock nuggets; as the band also shows the depth and breadth of their abilities with a few deeper, slower tracks. The Ooh La La Records release also features some interesting production effects, which generally work well to weave the album together.
The album kicks off and closes with complementary songs, “Winter Waltz” and “Barefoot Winter Waltz,” a pair of tender, sensitive, introspective tracks that expertly ebb and flow as the protagonist wrestles with the complexities of a broken relationship. It’s a great way to bracket the album and pull everything together. James vocals are absolutely fantastic on the latter.
James has a distinctive voice and a clear talent for lyric writing. On Twistification, he takes his unique peeks at life in the big city and shares the experiences in a way that is relate-able and memorable. The songs between the “waltzes” are generally hard-driving rollicking fun rock ‘n roll. Many of the tunes have a cool summertime, cruising vibe to them. “Only the Brave” was the first single released and it’s a great representation of what we’ll find throughout the album. It’s a roaring anthem that will resonate with fans of all ages.
On “Friday Night” we get a great glimpse of James’ penchant for featuring old 80’s era analog keyboards. It’s a cool touch that gives the songs an old school feel while at the same time driving through new boundaries. It’s another track that’s impossible not to enjoy. “Good Day Radio” is cut from the same cloth, just a bit more over the top. I find myself feeling guilty about enjoying it so much, but, like the rest of the album, it’s just addictive enjoyable music.
My two favorite songs cover two ends of the spectrum. “All Over Again,” is a poignant love song and an absolute sure fire hit for the band. It’s got a fantastic hook, “Let’s fall in love all over again; If it’s love that you want just tell me the where and the when.” It’s beautiful, memorable, and incredibly likeable. The other personal favorite is the dark melancholy “I Hate California;” a stark stripped down ode to an unhappy place that many listeners will be able to relate to. Both of them have the makings of classics we’ll be hearing on soundtracks for years to come.
“Crystal Vases” was the 2010 surprise hit on Sirius XM’s Alt-Nation and sounds much the same on this release. “Come Take My Hand” from the EP receives a makeover and has a richer sound with more tender vocals that work great. “Always To Belong” is the other track carried forth from the EP. Although it is creatively re-imaged, I enjoyed the original more. But, despite my preference for the original, I’m impressed by the band’s continuous attempts to push their own boundaries and break new creative ground.
It’s still incredibly early in the year, but this dynamic masterpiece is destined to be one of the releases that becomes the soundtrack for the year. It’s hip, cool, addictive rock that you’ll find impossible to put down. Grab your copy now at this link: Twistification – The Last Royals